The RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program has worked with state and local officials, salvage and reuse outlets, contractors, construction & demolition (C&D) processors and haulers, architects, and other stakeholders to develop consensus-based guidance on how to increase C&D materials reuse and recycling in the Commonwealth. RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts held three stakeholder meetings across the state in Boston (June 23, 2016), Worcester (September 22, 2016), and Springfield (November 10, 2016). RecyclingWorks also partnered with a number of associations to convene stakeholder sessions for their members or audience. Hosts for these sessions included: National Association of the Remodeling Industry – Eastern Mass Chapter, USGBC Massachusetts Chapter, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts, Western Mass Green Consortium, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Western Mass, and Boston Society of Architects. The information gained from these meetings was used to create this guidance document aimed at increasing C&D reuse and recycling.
This guidance is intended to provide guidelines for contractors, architects, and property owners interested in increasing their C&D reuse and recycling. The scope of this guidance covers several different types of projects and project scales. It covers deconstruction, demolition and renovation projects, the reuse of building materials and donation of usable materials, on-site source separation of C&D material, and mixed C&D recycling.
Massachusetts Waste Bans
In 1990, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) introduced its first bans on landfilling and combustion of easy-to-recycle and toxic materials. Additional “waste bans” have been phased in over time. The following materials and items, which may be encountered in construction, demolition, or renovation projects, are prohibited from disposal and/or transfer for disposal in Massachusetts:
- asphalt pavement, brick & concrete (ABC)
- ferrous & non-ferrous metal
- treated & untreated wood & wood waste (banned from landfills only)
- clean gypsum wallboard
- recyclable paper, cardboard & paperboard
- white goods (large appliances)
- cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
- lead acid batteries
- glass & metal containers
- single resin narrow-necked plastics
- whole tires (banned from landfills only)
- leaf & yard waste
These materials must be diverted from disposal. More information about the waste bans can be found on the MassDEP Website:
Your Business and the Waste Bans: What You Need to Know
FAQ About the Massachusetts Construction and Demolition Materials Waste Bans
When working on a building demolition, deconstruction, or remodeling, it is important to safely handle hazardous materials such as lead, asbestos, mercury, and PCBs.
In order to prevent the generation of nuisance dust or the emission of hazardous air pollutants, the MassDEP requires the owner/operator to file a Notification of Construction/Demolition on a BWP AQ06 form prior to the construction or demolition of any building except for a residential structure with fewer than 20 units. Additionally, the EPA also requires notification of the demolition of any building except residential structures with fewer than 4 units. Both the EPA and the MassDEP requirements can be satisfied by filing a MassDEP BWP AQ06 notification. Please note that, in a separate but related regulation, the MassDEP Asbestos Regulation (310 CMR 7.15) requires that prior to any demolition or renovation, the owner/operator must engage a Department of Labor Standards (DLS) certified asbestos inspector to conduct a thorough pre-demolition/renovation asbestos survey to identify all asbestos-containing material (ACM) that may be present so that it can be properly managed.
See the following resources for further regulation and guidance related to hazardous materials:
Department of Labor Standards (DLS) Deleading and Lead Safety Requirements and Information
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting Guide
MassDEP Mercury Management Act and additional Mercury Information
EPA Before You Tear it Down, Get the Mercury Out Guide for pre-demolition removal of mercury-containing products such as thermostats and fluorescent light bulbs
The Thermostat Recycling Corporation offers free mercury-containing thermostat recycling, reporting, and compliance assistance.
A waste management plan can be beneficial to help maximize reuse and recycling by identifying materials that can be diverted from disposal, potentially saving money on disposal costs. With a waste management plan you can determine what materials you will generate in advance and identify specific waste diversion opportunities for those materials, be it through reuse, source separation, or mixed C&D recycling. The Reuse Network (IRN) shares this sample waste management plan and building specs for managing waste materials. While there are differences between deconstruction, demolition, renovation, and clean outs, waste management plans look similar between different types of projects.
Write a waste management plan before putting a project out to bid and include it in the bid specifications in order to maximize waste diversion. Below are the basic steps involved with creating a waste management plan:
- Determine likely waste materials from the project, along with projected quantities of each material
- Identify outlets and markets for materials (e.g. reuse outlets, C&D processors, specialty material recyclers)
- Determine transportation needs
- Write a waste management plan to be followed by contractors and waste haulers involved in the project
Deconstruction and Demolition
For projects involving renovation or tear-down of an existing structure, there is significant potential for material reuse. Reuse might include anything from furniture inside a structure, to easily-removed items like cabinets and doors, to the lumber that holds up a building.
In order to remove materials in such a way that they can be reused, consider a pre-demolition clean-out and some level of deconstruction rather than demolition. In a pre-demolition clean-out, furniture is removed from a building for sale or donation. For large volumes of furniture, material brokers can help connect this material with an outlet nationally or abroad if the volume exceeds what can be managed locally through reuse stores.
Demolition involves tearing down a structure, putting its contents in dumpsters, and hauling it away. When taken to a C&D processing facility, some of these materials can be sorted and recovered for recycling but it is unlikely that anything will be reusable.
Deconstruction involves taking a building apart, piece by piece. This can be anything from a soft strip, in which the most high-value and easy-to-remove materials are removed intact, to a full deconstruction, in which the entire structure is “un-built” to maximize reuse of existing materials. A list of deconstruction contractors offering deconstruction services in Massachusetts is at the bottom of this document in the resources section.
If considering deconstruction and reuse, include this in the specifications for a bid. The cost for demolition and deconstruction varies based on several factors, including labor cost (which is more expensive for deconstruction), disposal cost (which is less expensive for deconstruction), and tax deductions for donated materials. Assess whether deconstruction is comparable or less expensive than demolition for your project.
The following example of the demolition of a residential property, from Piece by Piece Deconstruction in Western Massachusetts, demonstrates how in some cases, deconstruction can have a beneficial impact on the overall project budget. In this example, the savings on disposal costs, coupled with the tax deduction from donated materials, off-set the cost of deconstruction to save the property owner $17,000 when compared to what they would have paid for demolition. Note that this example does not include removal of the foundation.
Deconstruction can be a good fit for buildings built with high-value salvage materials, such as rare wood species or high-value bricks. Deconstruction can also be a good fit for projects in dense urban areas due to the smaller equipment footprint compared to demolition machinery. The EPA has a Deconstruction Rapid Assessment Tool that can help determine when a residential property may be a good candidate for deconstruction. To help increase the future reusabilty and recyclabilty of new construction, see the EPA’s Design for Deconstruction Guide.
There are many ways to reuse materials from a job site, from informal reuse strategies to donating material to a nonprofit reuse store or building materials salvage store. Examples of informal reuse strategies include:
- Reuse materials on-site
- Save leftover materials for use on a future project
- Offer materials for free or sale through networking sites such as Craigslist or Freecycle
- Deliver reusable materials to a ‘swap shop’ or ‘free shed’ at a local transfer station
Materials can often be donated to local nonprofit reuse stores such as Boston Building Resources, EcoBuilding Bargains, or Habitat for Humanity ReStores. These stores accept donated materials that their customers (typically owners of residential properties) are likely to be interested in purchasing. Hence, reuse stores are a good outlet to consider for residential renovation or demolition projects, or a project that might contain materials that are often used in residences, such as hotels. Nonprofit reuse stores help divert reusable materials from disposal while also offering their customers access to affordably-priced building materials.
In many cases, a tax deduction can be taken when usable materials are donated to a nonprofit. To determine what materials are deductible, and how to determine their value, see IRS Publication 523 – Charitable Contributions and IRS Publication 561 – Determining the Value of Donated Property.
The typical process for donating building materials is as follows:
- Assess whether your project may contain items of interest to a reuse store. See list of common items of interest below.
- Contact reuse outlet(s) to schedule a walkthrough at the job site (or share photos of specific items) to verify materials are of interest.
- If donated materials may be valued at more than $5,000, have an appraiser determine their value. (This is necessary if interested in claiming $5,000 or more in tax deductions for the donation.)
- Remove materials from building intact.
- Separate and store materials for donation at the job site. Consider siting a trailer during demolition or deconstruction to store donatable materials as they are removed.
- Arrange a pickup (most reuse outlets will pick up materials for free or a nominal charge but this must be scheduled a few weeks in advance) or drop materials off at reuse outlet.
While each outlet has specific materials that they accept, the items below are generally accepted by all reuse stores. See specific store websites or contact them directly for more detailed information on materials they accept.
Building materials that are in high demand for donation are:
- Lumber/molding – de-nailed and in sections greater than 6’
- Hardwood flooring
- Kitchen cabinets and sinks
- Bathrooms sinks, vanities, tubs, and toilets (particularly low-flow)
- Stone or solid-surface countertops
- Residential doors
- Energy efficient windows
- Landscape materials, pavers and stone
- Newer appliances
- Lighting fixtures
- Rigid foam insulation
For materials that are not of interest to local reuse stores, there are other types of outlets that can help facilitate reuse. A list of these organizations can be found at the end of this page under the resources section.
- Architectural salvage stores: Sometimes can accept materials that nonprofit reuse outlets will not, such as items that contain lead paint or varnish and may need to be stripped. These stores are interested in items that are of architectural interest, and may offer a wholesale price to purchase items that are in particularly good shape and high value.
- Wood salvage businesses: Potential outlet for large quantities of reclaimed wood, such as from mill buildings. Will offer a price depending upon the volume, type, and condition of wood.
- Material brokers: Potential outlet for large volumes of materials, particularly commercial materials, or institutional furniture removed during pre-construction clean-outs.
- Used furniture stores: In some cases a renovation or deconstruction project might yield usable furniture that a building material reuse store does not accept. In these cases used furniture stores or used office supply stores may be interested in taking that material for resale.
More information on reusing building materials, including technical information and a greenhouse gas emissions calculator, can be found at the Building Materials Reuse Association website.
Most C&D recycling in Massachusetts is done through C&D waste processors. MassDEP posts annual C&D reports that show the recycling rate for each facility. As this report is updated, this hyperlink will be revised to reflect the most recent data available. There are distinct differences between C&D processors and C&D transfer stations – C&D processors use various manual and mechanical processes to separate recyclable material from the loads they receive, and send the recovered recyclable materials to end markets. For example, clean wood may be sent to a particle board manufacturer. C&D transfer stations generally do not do comprehensive sorting of the C&D material, and while they may separate some materials from the waste stream, they transfer a majority of the C&D waste to either a C&D processor or an end disposal site. C&D processing facilities are effective at sorting a variety of materials, such as metal, wood, and rigid plastics.
Some materials are challenging for C&D processors to handle and separate, and may be better candidates for collecting separately on the job-site. This is known as source separation. By source-separating some materials, you may be able to increase the overall recycling rate of the project. The new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4 standards require that projects aiming to receive LEED certification target three or four specific materials streams to divert from disposal. Mixed C&D recycling, as generally practiced in Massachusetts, can count as one of the required material streams for LEED certification.
When contracting with haulers for removal of construction & demolition materials, ask where their materials are delivered and what services they have available. The hauler will be able to tell you whether they take mixed containers to a C&D processing facility and whether they offer containers for source-separated materials such as clean gypsum and cardboard.
Source separation of some materials, such as asphalt, brick and concrete (ABC), is common practice in many demolition projects. A number of other C&D materials are also candidates for source separation, such as gypsum wallboard and cardboard, which allows materials to enter the recycling stream more directly than sending them through a C&D processor. Most projects that source separate some materials will have two or three collections containers on-site at a time, including one for mixed C&D collection and others that rotate depending upon the stage in the project. For example, a larger renovation project might place a container for collecting ABC materials during demolition, then later site a container for gypsum wallboard cut-offs while drywalling, and finally a cardboard container during installation of finish materials. Each of these containers would be on-site for a fixed portion of the project. If space constraints do not allow for more than one dumpster, some haulers offer live-loading, in which materials are loaded into a truck while the hauler waits. Contractors should include dumpster staging in the construction planning and timeline to optimize source separation.
While many materials can be source separated, consider source separation for the following particular materials that may present difficulties for C&D processors or be recycled at a higher rate if collected separately on-site:
- Gypsum wallboard – See this Building Product Ecosystems video for an overview about recycling gypsum on large scale commercial projects.
- Ceiling tiles – Projects with around 5,000ft² or more of ceiling tiles may be able to recycle these tiles through Armstrong Ceiling Solutions.
- Asphalt shingles
- Asphalt pavement, brick and concrete (ABC)
- Carpet, carpet padding, and vinyl composite tile (VCT) – Send in a sample of each material to verify that it can be recycled. Plan to remove flooring at the beginning of demolition so it is clean enough to recycle.
- Expanded polystyrene packaging
- Plastic film
- Bulky Waste (Mattresses and Furniture)
There are many resources and organizations available to find further information and assistance with reuse and recycling of construction & demolition materials. Below is a list of additional resources and organizations. If you have any questions about diverting construction and demolition materials from disposal, call the RecyclingWorks hotline at 1-888-254-5525 or email info@RecyclingWorksMA.com.
Nonprofit Reuse Outlets
Boston Building Resources
EcoBuilding Bargains (Springfield)
Habitat for Humanity Restore: Attleboro
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Cape Cod
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Central Berkshire
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Greater Boston
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Greater Lowell
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Greater Plymouth
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Merrimack Valley
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: MetroWest/Greater Worcester
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: North Central Massachusetts
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: South Shore
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Springfield
Costello Dismantling Co
J&B Demolition and Removal
Mad Dog Demolition
New England Deconstruction
Piece by Piece Deconstruction
ReUse People of America
Well-Kamp Enterprises, Inc
For recycling assistance, or to provide feedback about these guidelines, please contact RecyclingWorks at (888) 254-5525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page last modified March 19, 2018